When organisations begin ‘going agile’, one topic that seems to be debated endlessly is which scaling framework to use – there are a fair few plus variations to choose from: SAFe, LeSS, scrum of scrums etc. I’ve worked with organisations to implement and dismantle pretty much all of these frameworks, and there are some common lessons that we need to learn.
Scaling frameworks are strong when it comes to:
  • formally co-ordinate agile teams’ activities where and when necessary
  • provide alignment between teams’ moving goals and the overall business objectives
  • having a governance system that allows for mutual adjustment of goals, delivery milestones and ways of working between teams
However, we soon begin to reach the edge of what a framework can bring to the table when we consider:
  • integrating teams’ outputs (knowledge, data, features)
  • communicating updates and changes to other teams
  • instilling self-awareness at the team level using a fitness function
  • escalating good practices, but ensure that non-transferable practices stay within the originating team
  • creating a constructive interface between agile teams and the line organisation
Organisations need to have continual open and transparent conversations throughout the transformation process in order to share lessons and succeed together. There can no longer be an ‘us’ and ’them’ feeling – leaders need to embrace authentic and empathetic leadership techniques. When teams are working in a fast-moving, flexible structure, conflicts between incentivisation, structure, project prioritisation and working groups are to be expected at increasing volumes. The organisation needs to have new ways to mediate and make decisions.
Here is some further reading on the topic: